Zen 101

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


With respect to each of you,

This evening I sat out under the stars, or what stars I could see since it is a cloudy evening here in Southern New Mexico.  Seeing the stars is unnecessary, we know they are there and, if we had studied them, we know what they look like.  Still, the act of sitting quietly out of doors is an act of mindful attention and love.

We should love our home, this tiny speck of a planet in an infinite universe.  It allows us to live, provides for us, and offers us a place in the vastness of space itself.  Having a place is very important and is something we in the United States rarely consider, as we are Americans and don't necessarily see ourselves as needing (or having) a "place."

Yet a "place" is one of the things in life we each seem to seek.  We want to know who and what we are, as well as, where we fit in.  We resist because we don't want to be "defined" by our sociological standing.  We want to define ourselves and do so in a liquid way.  Good for us, as that liquidity takes back to Zen where everything is understood to be liquid.  Every being and everything is in a state of constant change.

Personally, I am comfortable with my place, a place I have settled into and feel incredibly warm in.  Sitting outside this evening I drew myself near to the edge of the universe.  An edge that is just one breath away for each of us.  To get there, just let go what what you think you know and open yourself to your greatest teacher, the universe itself.

Be well,

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Frustration's End

With palms together,
Good Evening All,

It’s a little after 9:00 PM and outside I see clouds moving in over the mountains with an occasional lightening flash.  At rest now, my heart is taking in the day, a day with frustrations, joy, intimacy, and business.  It seemed as though at every turn there were issues with hanging the ink brush pictures.  In the morning I will once again make an effort to complete the task.  

I am a typical man: as things get in the way, frustration rises and swearing begins.  Shukke Shin doesn’t approve of this, but then, neither do I.  Still, there is frustration and there is swearing. It’s so, so automatic.  Today, though, something changed.  We had a session with our therapist and the frustrations came rolling out.  What a relief it is to just let things come out. As we talked, laughter arose, another good thing.  

When I discovered that the title cards to the paintings were not sticking and that I had gotten the wrong type of wire for the pictures, and that I had also forgotten the drill so I could not make starter holes on the frames…when I discovered all that, I decided in calmness to pack things up, get the right sort of wire and some material that will work to stick the tittle cards to the walls, and come back fresh in the morning.  This friends, is actual progress.  There was a time when I would simply go on auto pilot and fly around not resting till everything was addressed, fixed, or well on the way to being taken care of.

Practice is a good thing.  Sitting quietly with my mind, holding it close, and letting it be what it is, can help immensely.  What happens is this: through mindful practice we begin to see things as they happen and respond quickly making the necessary adjustments in mood, behavior, and demeanor in the process.  It’s not that we are not frustrated, angry, or sad; its that we recognize these feelings and are able to create a space between them and our actions. I will be the first to admit I am not always able to do this, but I am able to recover from a bout of negative thoughts and feelings much more quickly than most.  

You know, Zen asks nothing of us.  The practice accepts us as we are.  We are not going to hell in a hand basket for being human beings.  The hell we fear is that which we create ourselves.  Recognize this and you are almost home free.  

May you be a blessing in the universe.